February may be the shortest month, but it’s jam-packed with new sci-fi and fantasy books—including titles from big names like Marlon James, Ken Liu, and io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders! Plus: runaway space princesses, mythical monsters, post-apocalyptic survival stories, and tons more, including a few non-fiction picks.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
The Man Booker Prize winner (A Brief History of Seven Killings) kicks off what’s billed as his “African Game of Thrones” Dark Star trilogy, a blend of history and fantasy the explores the saga of a missing child and the man named Tracker who’s hired to find him — with the help (and hindrance) of shape-shifting animals and other amazing creatures.
Endgames by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The final book in the Imager Portfolio fantasy series finds young ruler Charyn barely in control of a country that’s on the brink of war, while a shadowy group aims to leverage their privilege into power and stomp out the hopes of the less-fortunate once and for all.
Figuring by Maria Popova
This work of non-fiction traces the lives of historical figures “whose public contributions [rose] out of their unclassifiable and often heartbreaking private relationships to change the way we understand, experience, and appreciate the universe.” The book’s real-life characters emphasise queer woman and include astronomer Maria Mitchell, poet Emily Dickinson, and biologist and author Rachel Carson.
The Ingenius by Darius Hicks
Political exiles have resorted to crime to survive in the unusual city where they’ve been banished — a place cast out of space and time by alchemists that has grown over thousands of years into a sprawling, dangerous place. Escape seems impossible, but that doesn’t stop its most desperate residents from dreaming of a way home.
The People’s Future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
This collection of “badass” short speculative fiction that aims to “challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in” is packed with contributions from acclaimed authors like N.K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, G. Willow Wilson, and io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders.
Polaris Rising by Jesse Mihalik
A new space opera trilogy begins as a princess goes on the run to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage—which works for a few years, until she’s captured by her furious ex-fiancé’s family and must trust a fellow fugitive (who just happens to be a dangerous outlaw) to help her escape again.
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
A new fantasy series kicks off as a thief is plucked from the streets after being revealed as the long-lost son of a disgraced prince—only to find that happy endings don’t necessarily play out like they do in the old fairy tales, and also that not everyone is destined to be a hero.
Same Same by Peter Mendelsund
In this symbolic and satirical novel inspired by Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, a man toils at a prestigious institute located in a desert just outside of a large city, until he has reason to make a life-changing visit to a shop where any item can be precisely reproduced.
Sisters of Fire by Kim Wilkins
The follow-up to Daughters of the Storm finds the five sisters have scattered since helping restore their father to his throne — and nobody’s life is exactly bursting with happiness, whether they’re raising kids, keeping up with royal duties, or slaying dragons. And things might get worse before they get better, as one sister’s dangerous secret is poised to bring them back together again.
Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems by Theodora Goss
The World Fantasy Award winner shares a new collection of poems and stories inspired by classic fairy tales but reworked with an eye toward empowering their female characters.
Stray Moon by Kelly Meding
This sequel to Stray Magic picks back up with the Paranormal Marshals just as agent Shiloh Harrison is promoted to replace her recently-deceased turncoat superior. The reluctant new boss must deal with frustrating bureaucracy and dangerous supernatural mysteries when a case involving missing werewolves drops in her lap.
Strife’s Bane by Evie Manieri
The author wraps up her Shattered Kingdom epic fantasy series by following formidable former sword-for-hire Lahlil as she returns home after stopping a bloody rebellion—only to find the kingdom in chaos and in danger of falling to an old enemy.
Your Favourite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore
In this novella, a music blogger decides to investigate a mysterious new band whose songs have an oddly hypnotic effect anyone who listens to them—and finds out something rather incredible about the lead singer.
All Roads End Here by David Moody
The sequel to One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning (set in the same universe as the author’s Hater series, in which the world becomes overrun by sudden, horribly violent person-on-person attacks) sees Matthew Dunne finally make it home…to a post-apocalyptic city he no longer recognises. And as a self-taught expert in “Hater” behaviour, he’s both an asset and threat to the populace once he returns.
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
The best-selling author of (and, as we love to remind you, the co-founder of io9) is back with a new novel. It’s set on a planet that’s permanently split between frozen night and blazing-hot day, where most people live in cities built on the borders between the extremes — and a young woman who manages to survive after being banished into the darkness just might hold the key to saving the world.
The Nine Cloud Dream by Kim Man-Jung, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl
This is a brand-new translation of a very old work, first published in the 17th century and considered a classic of Korean fiction. After he gives in to a forbidden temptation, a monk is punished by being reincarnated as “the most ideal of men,” and undertakes a journey to truly live and learn Buddha’s teachings.
The Revenant Express by George Mann
The author’s steampunk mystery series continues with a case that begins in crisis: Veronica Hobbes, assistant to Sir Maurice Newbury, is in desperate need of an artificial heart. Newbury and Veronica’s sister board a train to collect the precious organ, but their journey gets sidetracked when an old nemesis appears along the way—and there’s trouble involving the deliberate spread of a plague back home in London, too.
Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines
In this sequel to Terminal Alliance—set in a universe where aliens accidentally (or not) transformed almost all of Earth’s human population into feral monsters—a crew of heroic space janitors sneak back to their devastated home planet to try and save the future of the human race and the galaxy too.
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
An “immigration dystopia” is the setting for this novel, which imagines a man’s life taking an unexpected turn while he’s completing a citizenship test in near-future Britain.
The Afterward by E.K. Johnson
Romantic high fantasy about an unlikely pair of exalted heroes—an apprentice knight longing for a stable future, and a former street thief having trouble grappling with her newfound fame—who realise the quest they thought had ended is actually far from over.
Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation edited by Ken Liu
Acclaimed author and translator Ken Liu (Invisible Planets) presents his second anthology of very recent speculative fiction from China, with short stories, novellas, and essays from a wide range of authors — including established names (like Hugo winners Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang) and some who are being published in English for the first time.
Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe by Bob Berman
A veteran astronomy writer delves into the biggest explosions in our universe’s history — starting with the Big Bang and moving on to other awesome examples of “cosmic violence” and cataclysmic catastrophes.
For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones
A new trilogy kicks off with this epic fantasy adventure about two kingdoms that have settled into a peace only because the ruler of one believes the other owns the mighty sword that’s fated to kill him. When a lowly squire discovers the weapon is a fake, with a conspiracy surrounding the truth, a desperate quest to prevent all-out war begins.
Gates of Stone by Angus Macallan
In a magical island kingdom, the fates of three characters are intertwined: a sorcerer with world domination on the brain, a young royal on the run after being denied her birthright (and slaying her husband-to-be), and the local prince who finds himself somewhat reluctantly drawn into the fray.
Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
This new novella, set in the same universe as the author’s short story “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” returns to 1912 Egypt as a new case involving a mysterious tram car perplexes the agents of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities.
Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont
The Path to Ascendancy trilogy concludes as an ongoing war distracts the various involved rulers from some urgent new problems: a mage who’s taken over a large swath of sea, the rise of a semi-mythical army, and an ancient mystery the title hero can’t resist.
The Outcast Hours edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin
A short-fiction anthology about characters who live, work, and breathe in the dark, with new stories from China Miéville, Genevieve Valentine, Marina Warner, and many more.
Possible Minds: Ways of Looking at AI edited by John Brockman
This nonfiction work assembles 25 scientists — specifically, “people who have been thinking about artificial intelligence for most of their careers” — for an examination of issues surrounding AI as it stands now, as well as how it will affect the future of humanity.
The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan by Caitlín R. Kiernan
A retrospective that gathers the dark fantasy and horror author’s standout works of short fiction.
Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock
In 1932 Europe, a half-demon, half-angel must track down a stolen violin and face up to a tragedy in his distant past—only then can he summon a band of musical angels to end a looming supernatural battle that could destroy all of humankind.
The Dysasters by P.C. and Kristin Cast
In this supernatural fantasy, a teenage girl who can control the weather (among other strange talents) must team up with a similarly-gifted (but way more popular at school) classmate when they realise they’re both being chased by malevolent forces hellbent on harnessing their powers.
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
In a kingdom that was, until very recently, ruled by four queens, a teenage thief and one of her marks accidentally become caught up in a dangerous and deadly royal conspiracy.
In the Land of the Everliving by Stephen R. Lawhead
The author’s Eirlandia Celtic fantasy series continues as Conor and his sword-wielding men leave the world of the fairies to take on the barbarian clans that are menacing their borders—a threat that will require all of Eirlandia to work together in order to repel.
Miss Violet and the Great War by Leanna Renee Hieber
The Strangely Beautiful series continues with this standalone adventure, as the title character — a psychic who can communicate with ghosts — attempts to use her gifts to help amid the chaos of World War I.
No Way by S.J. Morden
The sequel to One Way finds scrappy protagonist Frank Kitteridge stranded on Mars and determined to find a way home — an already-complicated task made even trickier when he realises he’s not as alone on the planet as he once assumed.
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
The Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke-winning author leaps into a new fantasy realm with this tale of a kingdom protected by the Raven, a god whose fading powers have brought new vulnerability to the land. A warrior steps up to help, but he soon discovers a dark secret that could end everything.
The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois
The popular annual science fiction anthology celebrates 35 years of stories by collecting, as the title suggests, the very best of the best works from its robust history.